Platelets an Inflammatory Force in Transplantation


* Corresponding author: W. M. Baldwin III,


Platelet interactions with dendritic cells, T cells and B cells have been best studied in vasculitis and atherosclerosis, but similar mechanisms may contribute to acute and chronic vascular lesions in transplants. In acute inflammation, platelets adhere to vessels and release mediators that increase endothelial cell activation and leukocyte recruitment. Adherent platelets can also augment antibody and cellular immune responses. Activated platelets recruit T cells and initiate a feedback loop. In this loop, platelets secrete chemokines to recruit T cells, and then activated T cells stimulate platelets through CD40-CD154 interactions to secrete more chemokines thereby recruiting more T cells. The interaction of platelets and T cells is enhanced by P-selectin/PSGL-1 stimulation. Both helper and cytotoxic T cells are stimulated by platelets. Antibody production that is stimulated through increased helper T-cell function can activate complement. This sets up another activation loop because platelets express receptors for antibodies and complement. In addition to inflammation, platelets stimulate repair by releasing growth factors and chemokines to recruit circulating vascular progenitor cells. These repair mechanisms could promote the replacement of donor parenchmal cells with recipient cells and contribute to vascuplopathy. This review discusses the interplay of platelets and the immune system in relation to transplantation.